Young upper crustal chemical composition of the orogenic Japan Arc



[1] A new geochemical estimate of the young (mainly Paleozoic age to present) upper crust of the Japan Arc shows a dacitic composition in contrast to the idea that andesite is predominant in active orogenic arcs. Temporal changes in composition are not significant from the Paleozoic age to the present for the Japan Arc. The major element composition is similar to previous models of old cratonic upper crusts. The coincidence in the major elements between young and old crusts indicates that essential mechanisms during crust formation have not changed from the Archean era to the present. In trace element compositions the average young upper crust of the Japan Arc has higher Sb and As concentrations and lower concentrations of alkaline, light rare earth, and high field strength elements with respect to previous models of continental upper crusts. The large degree of constancy of trace element composition in marine sedimentary rocks is in contrast to the large variety in igneous rocks. However, the averages for both accretionary and nonaccretionary sedimentary rocks are almost identical to the average for the igneous rocks of the Japan Arc, with the exceptions of high Sb and As concentrations in unmetamorphosed sedimentary rocks. The compositional homogeneity among different types of rocks on an arc scale implies that recycling processes mechanically mix the arc-derived igneous materials to homogenize the chemical composition during erosion, transportation, sedimentation, accretion, and uplifting. Since the contribution of oceanic crust to the composition of arc crust is small, the recycling processes have not changed the bulk upper crustal composition of the active continental margin except increase the Sb and As from sediments. Instead, the influx of differentiated acidic rocks from depth is essential to characterize the orogenic crust formation of the young Japan Arc. The characteristically low incompatible element content of the Japanese upper arc crust appears inherited from parental magmas derived from a mantle source depleted during a long-term evolution.